Focus Has To Be On Who Can Best Get A Proper Job Done

With the elections having come and gone, the dust in Parliament settling and the National Development Plan (NDP) having emerged as a real plan to finally nail the |elusive promise of a better life, the question remains: can we afford to look back in 2030 and only then find out whether we picked the best men and women for the job?

The question remains valid in every decision - whether in the public or private sector - that has to do with appointing leaders, executives, and managers to lead complex undertakings that can potentially change the fortunes of society, organisations and the lives of ordinary people.

The question is even more pertinent in the Vuca world we have.

The term is coined by the US Army War College to describe the global world as volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous.

It has also become a trendy management acronym for "the crazy world out there", where planning for anything when everything is just as important is almost impossible. The concept of a well-worked strategy devolved into a grand plan has been shaken to its foundation by the Vuca world.

Yet, the world of "ready, fire then aim" does not hold.

However, there are new ways of creating competitive advantages in a world where human capability - the art of getting the job done - has come to matter at least as much, if not more, than well-worked strategies packaged into grand plans.

Our NDP sets out some ambitious targets for South Africa.

The question is: why not? Imagine if we can nail it!

Yet, we all know it will take more than our collective goodwill or belief to get the job done.

It will require real human |capability and competence starting from our newly appointed government and representatives in Parliament to private- and public-sector institutions.

It will require a great deal of leadership that enables and upskills ordinary people not only to believe we can choose the future we desire, but that we can also make it happen.

In American businessman Harold Geneen's words, "in business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance |is reality".

To those directly involved and working with the president, ministers in the cabinet, chief executives and executives in the private and public sectors, it will require a great deal of care and consideration in choosing and enabling those with the required competencies and skills to deliver.

Our recent association with America's largest executive search firm Korn Ferry has introduced Headways Talent Management Solutions to some groundbreaking research, evolving over more than 20 years on fundamental attributes that must be "non-negotiable" in identifying and appointing those who must lead complex progress that can, fundamentally, change the course of society, the fortunes of organisations and the lives of ordinary people.

Korn Ferry reviewed the long-term implications for methods used to recruit and appoint leaders and executives tasked with leading at the cutting edge.

The study revealed applying pre-appointment assessment tools such as decisions-styles and/or learning-agility assessments can significantly improve the person-job fit up front, dramatically increasing the prospects of choosing the best leader for the job.

The decision-style assessment tool, for example, while it assesses the leader's thinking style, how she |or he solves problems and makes decisions, it also assesses personal motivation and emotional competencies at each job level, industry and job function.

These are pointing requirements for every appointments at the highest level.

Learning agility is another leading predictor of success in leadership roles. It is a somewhat rare and holistic assessment tool because it measures five factors that are fundamental to leadership roles, especially in the Vuca world.

The five factors measured are:

Mental agility

The ability to embrace complexity, examine problems in a unique way and make connections between new and different concepts.

Change agility

The ability to embrace change and continuously explore new options and solutions to drive results.

Results agility

The ability to get things done. How motivated |the person is by challenges and whether they can deliver results in first-time and/or tough situations through resourcefulness and inspiring others.

People Agility

The ability to be open-minded towards others and enjoy the interactions from a range of people, ideas and perspective.


The ability to have deep personal insight, a clear understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses, free from bias |and how this affects others and one's own performance.

The volatility of the Vuca world is a permanent feature of the |modern world in the private and public sector.

People's capabilities and their competencies can be the distinguishing factor only between those who prosper and those who fail.

Of course, the winners will |continue focusing on quality and efficiencies, but they will also be paying a lot more attention to the human capabilities required to "getting the job done" irrespective of Vuca circumstances.

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